The ten biggest constructions worldwide: Top railway projects

23 November 2020 (Last Updated November 24th, 2020 07:48)

Four of the ten largest railway projects by investment are located in Europe. Railway Technology lists the ten biggest railway constructions under development worldwide, based on their project cost.

The ten biggest constructions worldwide: Top railway projects
Railway Technology lists the ten biggest railway construction projects worldwide, based on their cost. Image courtesy of Denis Belitsky/Shutterstock.

Four of the ten largest railway projects by investment are located in Europe. Railway Technology lists the ten biggest railway constructions under development worldwide, based on their project cost.

World’s biggest constructions: Top ten railway projects by cost

1. High Speed 2 (HS 2) – $136bn

2. Chuo Shinkansen – $84bn

3. California High-Speed Rail – $80bn

4. Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) – $47bn

5. Suburban Rail Loop – $34bn

6. Grand Paris Express – $31bn

7. London Crossrail Project – $24bn

8. Riyadh Metro – $22.5bn

9. Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Railway Corridor – $15bn

10. Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit Project – $12.2bn

1. High Speed 2 (HS 2) – $136bn

Top railway projects
The High Speed 2 (HS 2) will link more than 25 stations by 2035. Image courtesy of Matt Brown.

The High Speed 2 (HS 2) is a new high-speed railway being developed to connect London, the Midlands, the North and Scotland. The high-speed network will link more than 25 stations while serving 30 million people. To be developed in three phases, the project is expected to be completed by 2035.

HS 2 was originally estimated to cost $72bn (£56bn) according to the 2015 Budget. However, the estimated funding for the project has since almost doubled, with the latest investment escalating to $136bn (£106bn).

The project is anticipated to cut travel time from Birmingham to London from one hour 21 minutes to 52 minutes, while journey times between Manchester and London, as well as Birmingham and Leeds, would be reduced from two hours seven minutes to one hour seven minutes, and from two hours to 49 minutes, respectively.

2. Chuo Shinkansen – $84bn

Top railway projects
The Chuo Shinkansen, also known as the Tokaido Shinkansen Bypass, involves an investment of $84bn (¥9tn). Image courtesy of Maryland GovPics.

The Chuo Shinkansen, also known as the Tokaido Shinkansen Bypass, is a new bullet train network being developed by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central). To be built between Tokyo and Nagoya, the new Maglev-based line is estimated to involve an investment of $84bn (¥9tn).

The new line is anticipated to link Tokyo with Nagoya in 40 minutes while running at a maximum speed of 500km/h. Approximately 90% of the 286km-long line will pass through tunnels.

The first section of the line, which is being developed under the first phase of the project, will extend between Shinagawa and Nagoya. JR Central showcased the design of fourth-generation maglev train in October 2020. The Shinkansen service is expected to become operational in 2027.

3. California High-Speed Rail – $80bn

Top railway projects
The California High-Speed Rail links Northern and Southern California through the Central Valley in the US. Image courtesy of State of California.

The California High-Speed Rail is a publicly funded high-speed rail system under development to connect Northern and Southern California through the Central Valley in the US. The 1,300km-long high-speed train system is being developed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority at an estimated cost of $80bn.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the California high-speed rail project was held in January 2015 and the project is scheduled for completion in 2040. It is the first high-speed train system being developed in the US.

The California High-Speed Rail is estimated to carry approximately 40 million riders a year, once fully operational. It is expected to offset more than 3,500t of harmful pollutants and will remove 400,000 vehicles off the road each year.

4. Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) – $47bn

Top railway projects
Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) is a new rail network being developed in the North of England with an estimated investment of $47bn (£39bn). Image courtesy of Mace Group.

Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) is a new rail network under development in the North of England to enhance the existing rail capacity. The NPR is estimated to cost $47bn (£39bn), which is touted to be the single largest transport investment in the region after the Industrial Revolution.

Transport for the North is responsible for the development of the NPR programme. Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to funding the first stage of NPR, which involves the development of a segment between Leeds and Manchester, in July 2019.

NPR will improve journey times between major economic centres in the North and enable more businesses to access four or more cities or Manchester Airport within 90 minutes, once operational by 2040.

5. Suburban Rail Loop – $34bn

Top railway projects
The A$50bn ($34bn) Suburban Rail Loop will circle Melbourne city. Image courtesy of Bayside City Council.

The Suburban Rail Loop is an orbital railway network being developed by the Suburban Rail Loop Authority (SLRA). The project will circle Melbourne and link major railway lines through the Melbourne Airport.

The Suburban Rail Loop project is estimated to involve an investment of A$50bn ($34bn). Geotechnical investigation works began in July 2019 while construction on the first stage (south-east section) of the 90km-long railway network is expected to start in 2022 for scheduled completion in 2032.

To be served by a dedicated fleet of high-tech trains, the Suburban Rail Loop is expected to carry 210,000 people a day in 2031 and approximately 400,000 in 2051. It will take 200,000 cars off the road to reduce pollution.

6. Grand Paris Express – $31bn

Top railway projects
Grand Paris Express is one of the biggest transport projects under development in Europe. Image courtesy of Alstom.

Grand Paris Express is an automated transit network being developed in the Ile-de-France region of France. Estimated to involve an investment of $31bn (€28bn), Grand Paris Express is one of the largest transport projects currently under development in Europe.

The project involves the construction of four additional railway lines and 68 new stations. Approximately 90% of the 200km-long new railway network will be built underground. Construction began in June 2016 and is expected to last until 2030.

The new lines will circle the capital and offer connections with the three airports, business districts and research clusters in the region. The existing metro lines will also be extended as part of the project. It will enable the transportation of two million passengers a day, once operational.

7. London Crossrail Project – $24bn

Top railway projects
Crossrail is a $24bn (£18.7bn) new railway project under development in central London. Image courtesy of Tom Page.

Crossrail is a 118.5km-long railway project under development in central London, UK. The new railway, Elizabeth line, will be a high-frequency service connecting 41 stations between Reading and Heathrow in the west, and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Estimated to cost $24bn (£18.7bn), the Crossrail route includes three sections, namely western, central and eastern. The Elizabeth line is expected to enter passenger service in the first half of 2022.

The new line will allow 1.5 million additional people to reach central London within 45 minutes while reducing journey times. It is anticipated to serve approximately 200 million people a year.

8. Riyadh Metro – $22.5bn

World's biggest constructions: Top ten railway projects by cost
Riyadh Metro is a new rapid transit system being developed for $22.5bn. Image courtesy of EgisRail.

Riyadh Metro is a rapid transit system is being constructed as part of the Riyadh Public Transport Project (RPTP). Estimated to cost $22.5bn, the project is the biggest public transport project in Saudi Arabia.

The project involves the construction of six main lines with a total length of 176km and 85 stations. The Riyadh Metro network passes through most of the highly populated districts, public administration, academic and commercial establishments.

Construction of the Riyadh Metro project started in April 2014 while test runs on the metro began in August 2018. The public transit system is scheduled to become fully operational by the end of 2020.

9. Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Railway Corridor – $15bn

World's biggest constructions: Top ten railway projects by cost
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor will link India’s economic hub Mumbai with Ahmedabad. Image courtesy of RAMNIKLAL MODI/Shutterstock.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor is a high-speed rail line being developed by National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) to link India’s economic hub Mumbai with Ahmedabad. It is the first high-speed rail project under development in India.

Estimated to involve an investment of $15bn (Rs1.1tn), the project receives technical and financial assistance from the government of Japan. The high-speed rail corridor involves the construction of a 508km-long railway network and 12 stations. NHSRCL opened technical bids for the first two packages of the project in September 2020.

The elevated track will allow high-speed trains to operate at a speed of 320km/h while the limited-stop service will cover the distance in two hours. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor will be able to carry approximately 36,000 passengers a day, once operational in 2023.

10. Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit Project – $12.2bn

World's biggest constructions: Top ten railway projects by cost
The Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit project is estimated to cost $12.2bn. Image courtesy of Akira Mitsuda.

The Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit project involves the development of a 150km Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Kuala Lumpur. The system will include two northeast-southwest radial lines and a circle line looping around the city.

The $12.2bn (MYR50bn) project is listed as an Entry Point Project (EPP) under the Economic Transformation Programme’s Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley National Key Economic Areas (NKEA).

The first phase of the 23km-long MRT Kajang Line between Sungai Buloh and Semantan was completed in 2016. The second phase of the MRT system between Sematan and Kajang was completed in 2017. The third and final line is expected to be operational in 2023.